This is really hard to admit as an artist, especially if you happen to be part of the few to turn your art into a career. One important factor for a photographer who's made the leap to career is consistent results. People come to you because you know what you are doing. In today’s world, where everyone has a camera, its easy to forget that photography is actually a highly specialized skill. It takes years to learn and to master. Hence, being able to deliver consistent results and the confidence the clients put in your ability is the foundation of any photographic career. People seek out your services because you have time tested and proven results.
Talk about pressure. With so much riding on you reputation, it can be unbelievably stressful, especially since it’s well-known that artists are emotional time bombs and are probably their own worst critics. Still, we are only human and as humans sometimes we mess up and we make mistakes.
I recently did a photoshoot for a woman and the night before our shoot, she invited me over to a dinner party she was having. I had a great time and had way too much to drink. The next day, the day of her shoot, I was off my game, I felt like my mind was working 2 minutes slower than normal and that led me to become stressed and panicked. The shoot was supposed to be quick, just one hour, but to me the time felt like it was on fast forward.
I came home with images that I already knew where not my best work. Not to say that they were horrible, they most certainly were passable, but passable was not what I want, ever.
The whole situation made me sick to my stomach, I tried editing them to see if I could make them better with post production. That failed, in fact I think it made them worse. Then I tried doing the worst thing ever; I tried ignoring them. But the images became my very own Telltale Heart. Every time I opened Lightroom I felt a bit anxious, I knew my failed shoot was there, and I would see them in my "needs editing" category, haunting me.
The longer they were there the worst it became, mostly because I knew what I had to do from the start. I had to face the music, I had to call my client and ask if we could do a reshoot. I had to tell her that it wasn't because of her, but it was because of me. That I had created images that I wasn't happy with and that I couldn't, in good conscience, release.
Not only that, I had to face my own failure, I had to admit that I wasn't perfect. Not that perfection is something I've ever tried to attain to, but I hold my work to the utmost standards and I had to admit that my work, the work that I love so dearly, that I had sacrificed so much for over the years, was not good.
Now, I have to admit in hindsight, this was a serious overkill of the situation. One bad shoot does not make me a bad photographer. In fact, in the end, it might have made me a better one. In a way I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Facing that fear of never letting myself down, of always having things be perfect, that is a heavy weight to carry. I messed up, and it was OK. The world, didn't end, the four horsemen of the apocalypse didn't burn my house down, my business didn't collapse and my career as a photographer and an artist wasn't over.
The truth had indeed set me free. More than that it forced me to push myself to the next level. Knowing that the worst had come and passed left me feeling free to let it go and push on to bigger and better heights.
During the reshoot, I brought my A++++ game, I was going to make sure that I got the shots I should have gotten the first time.
And, I did.